Maybe We’re All Mystics (a 30:30 report)

07/23/2020 1 By BuddyCushman

Hassel Bouvier turns his canvases upside down before beginning new paintings. He says it’s the only way, there is a freeing like how they say if you can use the right part of your brain (not as opposed to the wrong but as opposed to the left), anyway when you can do that you are allowed to tap into more creative aspects of the Universe. And so Hassel – who is one of my roommates – that’s why he turns his canvases upside down on the easel he has on the back small concrete patio which is where he does nearly all of his paintings, yes out there he has his easel which is the fairly humongous old wooden thing he found at a flea market down on LaBrea and actually wheeled it home two miles on a Saturday morning, because the thirty bucks was too good to be true and it has wheels and if people driving or walking or jogging or low-flying by thought it was pretty weird, well I can with great assurance tell you that Hassel wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about who thought what, not with that kind of amazing deal presenting itself, so he leaves it on the cement out back because for one it won’t fit in the front or back doors anyway, even turning it sideways and trying to finagle different angles, and two because this is southern California and it hardly rains and last December when we did enter what is goofily termed the ‘rainy season’ around here he got one of the big plastic blue tarps and bungee corded it all around and stopped painting for two months and stuck with drawing in his room, which at one time was a room we shared but then the three of us – our other cottage-sharing roomie is Julius Breetin – the three of us took one of those January rainy days and we hauled everything out of the tiny room which had probably been a den for the people here before us or the ones who had this cottage built and lived in it for who knows how long and anyway we had previously only made use of it as a storage room but then I decided I would rather have a tiny room of my own than share the bedroom where I had been sleeping in with Hassel, who had lived here first,

So the three of us spent four hours hauling everything out, some of which is stuff still out there in the backyard and other stuff got left on the sidewalk for freebies for neighborhood scavengers or later when the town dump people came and hauled it away. Then I bought a single bed, what some people call a twin, and it barely fit in the old den and I left my used wood bureau of clothing in Hassel’s room and I put some Airplane posters up on the wall and a couple of very cool drawings Hassel had done and one of his oil paintings too, hung up on a nail, and there were shelves we left up – which was always a chance for me to keep my wits about me and keep up good moment-to-moment attention so I didn’t jump up out of bed all of a sudden, like if there was a sonic boom from an El Toro jet breaking the sound barrier, and whack the crap out of my head, that hasn’t happened yet and I’ve been sleeping there something like nine months now, but the shelves allowed me to bring in my stereo system, the turntable and amplifier and I found smaller speakers which fit up on the shelves and so I truly dig my digs, I say, and every once in a while a girl I know pretty well named Charlene spends the night with me and she has never hit her head yet either and sometimes we lay on the thin bed squinched up together, which we like a lot, and play records quietly all night long, and when I say that I mean we are awake and listening and just being there when the dawn comes up and light slips in through the back window and what usually happens is we get up and take a shower together and then walk down about five blocks to the Gerry and Turtle family diner and order pancakes and lots of coffee,

And if you have not been distracted while I was telling you about Charlene and me and spending nights and mornings together you can probably see why I tell people my life is sweet, and my life is full, and I will even go to the church around the corner which is Methodist, not that I’m some big believer but because I want to sit in there and think about the word blessed and get to say to whatever big power thanks for blessing me with this sweet, full life, and of course that’s only part of it.

Julius is a juvenile probation officer at the court house in Culver City and Hassel works at a youth settlement house down in Inglewood. I work at a book store way down on Wilshire next to the Nuarte Cinema and once a week we make sure to have dinner together, which we all chip in making depending on what it is and particular chef expertise for that night and we talk about our work and it is okay and in fact encouraged to ask each other well-thought-out questions and both those guys have interesting jobs which generate interesting stories, mine’s a little more sedate, it’s a book store, though sometimes the boss comes in with boxes of books from wholesalers and some aren’t really fit to be sold and so I get to bring them home, some have no covers which is a thing I have never understood and I get questioned sometimes about what our top sellers are and if there is any new good stuff in sci-fi and how many people come in on Saturdays, which I am scheduled for only once a month,

And so I have two cool roommates who are my friends and with whom we all get along fabulously and my own cool room and a sweet, kind girlfriend – she says I can call her that even though we don’t live together or spend every waking minute together or ache horribly when we are not together, because Charlene works at a used thrift shop which specializes in women’s clothing, it’s just off the mall in Santa Monica which is also where she lives – out near the airport – and she loves her job and the people she works with and has lots of friends because it’s where she grew up and went to high school which for her was graduated from four years back and I also want her to call me her boyfriend and she does and both of us go surfing too, she is way better than me I specialize in fallings and wipe outs though you once in a while catch a solid long one and right there you get another item to add to what I think of as blessings when I sit thanking in the Methodist Church,

And the Methodist church is always open and I have taken since a few months back to going there in the middle of the week when it’s nearly empty and the light from the afternoon sun shines through the stained glass and I don’t formally meditate but I imagine it’s like that and I try to keep the word blessing and the idea of being blessed in my head. And just keep it there. Sort of mystical, maybe.